'200000 users, 150 countries hit by ransomware'

Angelica Greene
May 19, 2017

The malware spreads through e-mail.

The UK security researcher known as "MalwareTech", who helped to limit the ransomware attack, predicted "another one coming. quite likely on Monday".

Huss, a western MI resident and Purdue University graduate, said he is thankful it wasn't someone "with malicious intent" who discovered how to stop the attack but that it wouldn't be hard for those responsible to re-release it or for others to mimic it.

Sky News reported Sunday that seven organisations which manage hospital care within England's National Health Service are continuing to divert patients from the emergency room, a figure which an NHS spokeswoman was not able to confirm to AFP.

Managers at many companies and other organizations have not taken steps to put proper cybersecurity systems in place despite talking about their importance, Gazeley said.

When asked if the British government paid any ransom, a government spokesman said "no" and pointed out that Rudd had advised that others don't either. The statement said antivirus systems are working to destroy it.

During the attack on Britain's health system, computer screens were locked by the malware that demanded the user pay $300 in bitcoins or risk having files erased. In this May 12, 2017, photo, a display panel with an error can be seen at the main railway station in Chemnitz, Germany. News.com.au reported the minister told reporters in Cairns that the challenge was that there were various instances of ransomware in Australia every week and authorities were now seeking to confirm whether these are the same thing that hit the United Kingdom.

But there will be other vulnerabilities to come, and not all of them will have fixes for older systems.

"IT managers need to be extremely aware that new variants of this ransomware attack are being launched nearly hourly, so they can't just check that their computer systems are protected, then relax, assuming everything will stay that way", he said.

He also poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret - in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare - against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet. The ministry said the problem had been "localized" with no information compromised.

He said most people "are living an online life", and these agencies have a duty to protect their countries' citizens in that realm as well.

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In Australia, Alistair MacGibbon, special advisor to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Cyber Security, said some small businesses would likely be hit "but as a whole of nation we can be confident, so far, that we have missed the worst of this".

"The most important message we want to get out there is that we haven't seen a wholesale impact like we've seen in Europe and other parts of the world".

Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan have been the countries most affected by the attack.

Marin Ivezic, cybersecurity partner at PwC, said that some clients had been "working around the clock since the story broke" to restore systems and install software updates, or patches, or restore systems from backups.

He had highlighted an incident at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge where a nurse clicked on a malicious link and malware infected her computer and started to encrypt sensitive files.

The ransomware, called "WannaCry", is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

Computers around the globe were hacked beginning on Friday using a security flaw in Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, an older version that was no longer given mainstream tech support by the U.S. giant. "You're only safe if you patch as soon as possible", he tweeted.

"I still expect another to pop up and be fully operational", Kalember said.

He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was.

The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre said Sunday that there have been "no sustained new attacks" of the kind that struck Friday.

Medical staff reported seeing computers go down "one by one" as the attack took hold, locking machines and demanding money to release the data.

Other reports by GizPress

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